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What is an Artist?………….. Have you heard the phrase “she’s an artist” or “they are a real artist”? I want to ask “says who?”. I would love to know who decides. Who gets to say that you or I are an artist or not. So today I ventured out on the world wide web and asked the question to the all knowing search engine Google; What is an Artist, What does it mean to be an Artist and finally Who decides who is an Artist. I discovered these questions have been asked by many many people. Many looking for validation many looking to exclude.
So the first question, What is an Artist? I found on WikiHow a page titled How to become an Artist, yes you read that correctly a step by step guide, I was shocked. From the website Collective Evolution, What Does It Actually Mean To Be An “Artist?” “So the question is not who is an artist, but can every person live a life of artistry, of beauty?”
In the blog, The Art Of Being An Artist, I read today she wrote “For the work to become art, it must be experienced by others and you must assume the responsibility of making that happen, at whatever cost to you or your ego.” On another page, Digital Photography School, I found the author saying “The term artist has a powerful meaning that is non-discriminatory. You, as an artist, have the distinct ability to take something and make it your own. But for me, I don’t consider myself an artist. It’s not a label I give myself because I feel that it is too strong for how I look at my own photos.” Too strong? Powerful meaning?  Yes, it is empowering and sad that he feels what his soul does to express itself is not good enough in his own eyes to be able to call himself an artist.
And the second question, What it means to be an artist? From Pikaland website page, What Does Being An Artist Mean To You?, she says “But as I struggled internally with the question, I finally realized something: being an artist isn’t a label. Its what you do that truly counts. Being an artist means putting your best feet forward everyday and to create things that makes a difference; whether that difference is for you, or for others.  That’s what being an artist means to me. Being able to bare your soul for others to pick at, not knowing what brickbats will befall you as you put your work out there.  That’s what being an artist means to me. Being unsure if what you do will resonate with others, but you need to say something all the same. That’s what being an artist means to me. People who have a fear of the unknown, but who are willing to take a chance – to jump in to do the work anyway. That’s what being an artist means to me.” Beautiful really, jumping with fear and creating. You don’t need to hang in a gallery or have a website “Sue Smith Artist”!
And the final question, Who decides who is an Artist? From Miles W Mathis website “A reader wrote in this week with a rather interesting question. She wanted to know when one was qualified to call oneself an artist. Was it enough to have passion or did one require some sort of recognition from society? The question betrays insecurity, but it is substantive nonetheless. Van Gogh admitted just this insecurity in his letters to his brother Theo. He also had little or no success during his lifetime. Yet he is widely thought to be a great artist, and is almost universally admitted to be an artist, great or not. So what does this tell us? Let us take it as a given that Van Gogh was an artist. It follows that he was an artist from the time he began creating art. Meaning that he did not suddenly become an artist once society recognized him as one, having only been an aspirant until then. No, he either was or was not an artist, and if he was then the title is retroactive—it applies to the living man as well as to the dead man.” I say if its good enough for Van Gogh its good enough for each and every one of us. He wasn’t just a great artist he was at the core of it just a man who did what is soul needed to do. He didn’t get the title artist when he was alive from those around him, he just did.

So I say just do what your soul needs to do and I will be here on Shaw street in a little Oregon suburb reminding each person who says “they are a real artist” or “I’m not an artist”, that oh yes my dear you ARE an artist!

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Can there be too much of a good thing…..My husband has a constant complaint, my iPhone. It is with me 24/7 unless I forget where I laid it, just ask Helen about that constant question. I get a lot done every day with that little iPhone. I’ve always been a “busy person”. Quickly going from one project to the next. My BFF speaks often of our 10pm conversations when I’m in this or that store or getting a blog post written or doing laundry. Someone told me once I’m here there everywhere because I am ADD. Now I have never been tested but I don’t think that’s it. Maybe just maybe I’ve just been conditioned over the years to the get it done quick, multi-tasking world we live in. In a recent study by the Associated Press, the average American attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds. That’s down from 12 seconds in 2000. A gold fish has a 9 second attention span, yes 9 seconds. That’s 1 second longer then us! Twitter only gives you 140 characters, maybe they know something. With that thought in mind I was thinking, could there be too much in our creativity outlets? Too much color? Too many layers? Too much bling? Have we become used to sooo much that maybe we in our creative outlets over do, overload and loose the beauty of simplicity. Next time you’re in the grocery store shopping, take a look at the cereal aisle. What do you see? For me it was the simplest packaging that grabbed me instead of the busy designs filled with bright bold colors. The simple red K. Me, the bling layer lover must ask myself why? As Agi always told me “your eye needs a resting place”. So what does that mean? What is that saying to us? That maybe just maybe even Kellogg gets it. We are on overload. We are maxed out on the fast, furious, bold, the no place to rest. They seem to instead of using bold design for shock value to grab people’s attention,  going back to simpler designs. Maybe we should take a hint from General Mills, Post and Kellogg. Maybe we should try less layers, less color and more simplicity? Maybe in our creative outlets be it card making, scrapbooking, mixed media, altered art we should challenge ourselves to create something simple, something that gives us and our creative eye a place to find some rest in this 24/7 140 character world we live in.

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You can forget vegetables or working out…… Yes you read that right. Go play a flute, dance your heart out or be creative and make some art! Did you know doing something creative is good for you and your health. That is the conclusion of a study at George Washington University assessing the health effects of participating in music, dance and arts & craft programs on seniors older than 65. Now I’m not a senior, I’m not over 65 BUT if its good for you to do at 65 it must be just as good at 43! 🙂 Now the researchers expected creative and physical activities would help seniors feel better and it might be possible to slow the aging process. The surprise was that people got healthier and happier! The group reported better overall health, fewer doctors’ visits and less use of medications. They also reported less depression, less loneliness and an overall higher morale. Now who among us don’t want better overall health and morale? I know it’s the middle of summer and it’s oh so hard to squeeze in art and creative projects in between vacations, gardening and the like. But soon enough the weather will change and fall will be here. Our garden will be put to bed, vacations will come to an end and football season will arrive and we will have more time on our hands to get back to being creative with our hands. Now, after reading our blog, when you are creative and using your hands making art of all kinds its not just about a hobby that you enjoy, you are actually making yourself healthier and happier! Make sure you mention that to your husband when he asks why you need all that square feet….”I am just making myself healthier”. Who could argue with that?

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How can Art keep you healthy?……… I just read a VERY interesting article by Cathy Malchiodi about how doodling can keep your brain healthy! If you get the chance read the article:) I think doodling can also unlock things we are carrying with us that maybe need a voice. In today’s busy world we run out of time very quickly, so quickly that there never seems to be enough time for everything. I am guilty as charged on this count! Some things just get moved to “the back burner” and some over and over again. You’ve heard the saying “Art is good for the soul”, well now I think it’s also good for the mind too! We all need a gentle reminder that we are mind, body and spirit and we need to care for all three. Go get your doodle on! Maybe just maybe you might take a peek into your mind and see something it would like you to take care, heal or just plain make more time for a quiet space. Don’t forget, if you need doodle support we are here first Saturday of every month with a Zentangle Club support group 🙂

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My work on getting outside of the box……… You all know how hard it is for me to get away from the bling of crystals & the Copic sketch markers. I was sick this past week and was under the gun when it came to card class designing, this worked to my advantage with working on getting outside of the box. I didn’t use one crystal or pick up one Copic sketch marker. You would have to ask the ladies in class if they liked their cards but to make a full confession I did use an adhesive glitter paper……does that count as bling? 🙂

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Being “Creative” …… The more I think about it the more I realize I have in one way or another been “creative” my entire life.  What does creative really mean is a good question. A definition of creative I found is; relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work. My first “creative” memory I think is hosting and directing a talent show between mine and another 2nd grade class. I had a clip board, does that count? I’ve owned a flower shop, helped design the landscape in a home I lived in Mt Vernon Wa, as well as the remodel. I’ve been a wedding/reception coordinator~that requires being “creative” in so many different way from helping the bride with choices of flowers, ceremony choices to “creative” ways to keep the moms in check. Now its owning Paper Parachute and the adventure of art in so many countless ways; paper, stamp designing, mixed media projects I could go on but you get the idea. My mother says she wonders where I get my creative bone, she says she doesn’t one at all. My husband doesn’t get my “creative process” when I design cards. I walk around the store up and down rows around in circles waiting for the creative lighting bolt of an idea to hit me. He thinks I need something to do, Helen just leaves me alone she knows now. I do wonder about those that say that they are not “creative”. I say yes, yes you are! You just don’t know it yet! I think being creative can take so many different shapes and forms. I think the phrase in the definition of “production of an artistic work” is in fact not correct. I think you can plant flowers in your yard, lay a beautiful table for a family dinner, choose paint for your home, make a card, paint, make jewelery, I could go on and on. I think it should say “esp anything that feeds your soul & spirit, that brings beauty in your life & others. Yes I like that much better! Who do I write about this?

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One Foot in the Box still….. Well I tried to stay away from crystals, copic markers and fussy cutting but I don’t think it’s in me! I just had to bling up one card and copic color another, I couldn’t help myself~hehe 🙂 I did discover that the process of black out poetry was really a journey into what was on my heart or mind that day. I tried over and over again to change the flavor of the words I was looking for but couldn’t. It reminded me a little bit of Soul Collage. In the end I finished five cards and as always I was drawn to blue hues, my favorite color. I guess I’ll be taking baby steps outside the box and while taking those baby steps I’ll leave living completely outside the box to Helen.  Shes comfortable out there, I’m just visiting:)

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Pushing Outside the Box….. Do you ever get stuck in your own little box? Do you ever say, why did I not think of that? I do that ALL the time. So this February I’m going to be pushing myself outside of my own box. I have decided to teach a class on black out poetry. It’s like nothing I have ever done. No fussy cutting, no Copic marker coloring, no crystals. I’m going to be pushing myself creatively and see what happens. It’s art right, no there is no wrong there is just try and do. How about you? Will you try something new this year? Will you push yourself outside of what comes easily and try for something that makes you maybe just a little uncomfortable….. you may find that little uncomfortable will get you something amazing. That’s at least what I’m hoping for:)

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